Neuroscience Reviews

My Message inside your Brain 3

Yesterday I visited the International Conference on Neuromarketing, My Message inside your brain. This was the third time this conference was held. The goal was to provide the latest insights from the field and academic research.


During the conference three techniques were covered: fMRI, EEG, facial coding and IAT. There are a number of differences in these techniques, the foremost is cost. fMRI is the “holy grail” but also the most costly where as IAT is the most cheap. All these thechniques try to uncover our brain activity and thereby our emotions of the automated brain, but all based on a different assumption. fMRI tracks bloodflow in the brain, EEG tracks electrical activity in the brain, facial coding identifies micro emotions in our face and IAT tries to reveal our implicit assumptions.

Why do we need these techniques

People make only a small amount of rational decisions, the estimates are around 5% or the difference between a cubic meter and the milky way. There seems to be no correlation between what people say they will buy or do (a conscious decision) and what they actually buy or do (a unconscious decision). This means a questionnaire with you clients if they want to but your product is useless because that does not give you insight in the actual behavior. A conscious buying decision only occurs when the choice is simple, that means a small number of choices and very clear differences between the choices. In our world today these choices are practically extinct. During the conference we got a number of studies that could predict actual succes (the bigest blockbuster movies in the US or an Effie) based on a 30 person trial with either fMRI or EEG. This means the researchers can link specific brain activity during a commercial to the actual succes of a product. If my brain reacts in a specific way to an add, the chances are a lot bigger that I will buy this product.


The speaker that stood out most was Margriet Sistkoorn. Her presentation on emotions and the brain worked around Threat, Reward and Wisdom as the three basics of the brain and played a number of tricks on our brains to make us humble about our own ability to control our brain.

There were speakers from three cognitive neuro labs in the Netherlands: University of Amsterdam (Victor Lamme & Andries van der Leij), Erasmus University (Willem Verbeke & Ale Smids) and Tilburg University (Margriet Sitskoorn).  And speakers of four commercial neuromarketing agencies: Neuro Intelligence Group (Roland Dietvorst), Neurensics (Walter Limpens), IPM (Aartie Rambaran Mishre) and NeuroLeadershipInstitute (David Rock).

Neuro Information Sciences

What is there to learn for information management from neuro sciences. Well a lot! We at Incentro believe that the last step in making information more productive is that information should be interpretable. Neuroscience can help us figure out what types of information, channels or contexts work best to help the unconscious brain make decisions or store information for later use.

PS thanks wikipedia for the image


De weg naar het informatie paradijs

De afgelopen periode heb ik het boek het informatie paradijs van Guus Pijpers gelezen. Dit boek geeft op een hele pragmatsiche wijze handvatten om de weg naar het informatie paradijs te vinden en wanneer je het paradijs gevonden hebt hoe je in het paradijs jouw weg kan vinden.

Guus maakt op een hele makkelijke en toegankelijke manier duidelijk dat informatie in deze economie onontkoombaar is. Er is steeds meer informatie dus de vraag hoe we de juiste informatie tot ons kunnen nemen wordt steeds relevanter. De lezer krijgt ten eerst inzicht in wat informatie precies is en dat vorm en inhoud van informatie minstens net zo belangrijk zijn. Met behulp van een aantal vragen krijgt de lezer inzicht in zijn eigen informatie behoeftes en gebruik. Het blijkt dat de gemiddelde mens veel op zoek is naar informatie en hij weet daarbij eigenlijk niet waarom hij of zij dit doet. Heel veel informatie die wij lezen heeft nauwelijks echte waarde. Guus geeft vervolgens een aantal manieren om informatie te negeren en beter tot je te nemen. Daarnaast krijgt de lezer ook veel praktische voorbeelden hoe hij informatie beter kan communiceren. Dit alles wordt duidelijk gemaakt met een groot aantal praktische voorbeelden, onder andere uit de gezondheidszorg.

Het boek leest erg prettig en je krijgt het gevoel dat je Guus het boek hoort vertellen. Persoonlijk vond ik dit heel prettig maar ik kan me voorstellen dat niet iedereen dit even prettig vindt. Het boek is te bestellen op


PICNIC day three

Yesterday was the third and final day of PICNIC. The picture (courtesy of PICNIC) was taken in the NANO supermarket and is a bonzai tree powering a cellphone. In this supermarket artists gave impression what could be done with nano technology. This wonderfull day started with the Open Data Breakfast. First Yuuso Koponen of the Aalto University in Finland kicked off with a very good presentation on information design & visualisation. One great insight was that visualisations enables the reader to choose the sequence of the information whereas in text the writer forces the sequence. Infographics are more pull than push so to say. Another important lesson to be learned was the speed in which your brain gathers data. Sights is the fastest with 10 Mbit/s while hearing is only 10000 bit/s. This explanes why visualisation can enable faster comprehension because it simply get’s in your brain faster. A third take-away I want to stress, is that visualisations should reduce data and to set the data side by side to enable easy comparison.

The second part of Open Data Breakfast was a workshop by Nokia on This site offers people the opportunity to submit ideas for using open government data. We worked on some very nice ideas. One of the ideas was the parking space problem. During the discussion the project and the Code for America project got mentioned. Both use open source to help municipalities open up their data and services to the public. During this discussion I wondered if citizens really want to be engaged in the government, business and people triangle. My idea is that as citizens we appointed government to take care of public service on behave of us. Why would we get engaged again?

After lunch  I really enjoyed the discussion on storytelling which was hosted by Dr. Beth Coleman. First was the director of Wasteland, a story about people living on a wastesite in Brasil. Second was Jeff Hull, the creator of the Games of Nonchalance for the Jejune Institute in San Francisco. Third was Euro Beinat, professor of context awareness in Salzburg, who talked about the currentcity project. Last but not least was Howard Goldkrand, creator of the Alternate Reality Game (ARGDexter. All showed remarkable ways to tell stories that change lives of the people in the story. Where a film the audience is not a part of the story but in the Games of Nonchalance and the Dexter ARG the audience participates. The Dexter APG had three tiers of participation from just viewing to full blown participation. These stories are told in a number of media at the same time because people all have different preferences to enjoy. It even got that far that in the game a game emerged between the makers and hackers who tried to hack the game. They were discovered and in a playfull way were engaged on their turf.

[vimeo w=600&h=375]

Games of Nonchalance from Nonchalance on Vimeo.

During the break I witnessed the Appsterdam reward ceremony where an app won that enabled, again, to find free parking spaces. This seems to be a big issue in cities of all kinds and especially in Amsterdam.

The last session was about the business case for cities.  The session started out really great with Isis Spuijbroek, creative strategist for the City of Rotterdam. She gave us some insight in the way a city works and what it’s role is. I really liked the metaphors of businesses that Rotterdam could be. The presentation by Auke Ferwerda showed some insight in incubators and the effort to lower risk and a higher success rate. The combination of these speakers, in my opinion, did not make a business case but was interesting.


PICNIC day two

Today was day two of PICNIC and another great day, maybe not as great as yesterday but never mind! The weather had improved tremendously over night. The day started with the Vodafone Mobile Clicks presentations. After a short delay and an introduction that was a little bit to long they kicked off with Wunderlist and Frogtek. Both were clearly startups in a more mature phase indicating the level was high. Wunderlist is a task management app for a number of platforms. This app already has a large fanbase and a number of mentions on prominent media! Frogtek is a service for small shop owners in developing countries to help run their businesses more efficient. Frogtek was my favorite because for me it was more innovative than a task management app. I did not stay tuned for the other candidates but the prize money will be rewarded tomorrow.

After lunch I sat in on a discussion about database cities and urban stories. The panel consisted of some great minds from the US and The Netherlands on this topic. Combining the data that cities are generating and augmenting this into the real world will shape the urban stories that make culture. A nice art example is The Catalogue made by Chris Oakley in 2004, where he envisions a world where tremendous amounts of data are combined. The internet of things comes into play. This is a big theme of PICNIC this year. The internet of things will be combined with social media (the internet of people?), ambient intelligence and mobility to improve life in cities. The discussion ended with the thought that although technology is great, people that are interacting with each other is the real stimulus for creativity and knowledge sharing.

My day ended with two great talks by Charles Landry and Victor van der Chijs from OMA. One of the thoughtfull questions by Charles was why people asked what the Zuidas is but the NDSM area is completely clear. The zuidas ,nice name for a financial district with international aspirations 😉 costed 2 bilion euro’s, where the NDSM island started with a briefing on the feel and culture of the area. Victor talked about the dimise of the creative class. Inspired by Richard Florida he made a case for creative class to team up with other the other promising sectors in The Netherlands to add value. An example is the Energy Roadmap 2050 to create an european powergrid.


PICNIC day one

My first ever PICNIC festival day started with a nice talk by professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, president of the KNAW. He talked about the relationship between creativity and physics. One of the best parts was about most important element of a formula, the equals sign. This sign brings together two worlds and lets ideas and concepts flow between these two worlds.

The second part of the creativity session was by Mark Runco, who talked about ideation and divergent thinking. Three elements are important in ideation: originality, fluency and flexibility. Time and associations have an effect on ideation and thus creativity. Playfullness will produce better ideas than being serious, so there is a wise lesson for all workshops!

The third part of creativity was about the concept of fractal. This shape is used by nature all the time and can be applied to business problems aswell. Searching the right information should use fractal trajectories to cover the most space on an efficient way.

During lunch I really enjoyed the Boom Chicago Pitch Training, where we learned a lot about giving a good pitch or presentation. A lot of good tips on stature, eye contact, acknowledging energy and presence. In speaking we should avoid “uhmm” and similar words, which can be done by a more than average preparation. At the office we discussed the hitchcock effect, that is to state the conclusion upfront and elaborate afterwards. During this session we talked about the scheme to state a conclusion “I like this bottle of water”, state three short reasons for the conclusion (“because it is fresh, sustainable and a good presentation prop”) and than elaborate on the reasoning. You can take a half day workshop at Boom Chicago for €95 euro, which should be fun and a good investment in your presentation skills!

After lunch I attended a workshop together with @ARoelofswaard on open data combining data from cities and people. The last one is trending as the Quantified Self lately. They mentioned some great stuff that is happening right now like, a site generates a fake person based on a big mix of data. The other service that was really nice is, a site that lets you make a litte app or service combining a number of channels, based on the priciple “if this than that”, hence the name ifttt ;-). Pachube was mentioned shortly, what is a nice service to manage data in the internet of things.

All together a really, really great first day and I am excited to go back to Amsterdam tomorrow!


EIM2011 Day

Today was EIM2011 Day. We had some great speakers and a great audience. This summed up to a great and inspiring day. First Paul Baan kicked off the day with some fresh insights on Information Productivity. Jeroen Derynck updated us on Enterprise 2.0. Toon Abcouwer described the circle of life for organizations and the different needs for information. Roeland Dietvorst explained what the automatic processes in the brain do. Andy Boyd shared some insights on his work with Shell and the London School of Economics. The last speaker was Bert van Marwijk how told the story about the road to World Cup 2010.

Some take-aways:

  • Cost of Information = Cost of Systems + Cost of Information Overload + Cost of Information Assymmetry
  • Where is the fun in Enterprise Systems?
  • Collaboration counts for 36% of all business performance
  • Information used to mean power but today it means freedom
  • There is tension between desire, obligations and capabilities
  • 25% or less of all information can be put into systems
  • Organisations shift from status quo to crisis to innovation to enterpreneurship and back to status quo. Based on (un)certainty about desires and obligations versus capabilities
  • Our brain shape our view of reality
  • Asymmetric dominance (aka the decoy effect) forces choice
  • Misattribution of arousal changes our behavior
  • Stimulation of the Nucleus accumbens makes us want things NOW
  • Physical warmth can stimulate interpersonal warmth
  • Mirror behavior makes us happier and more receptive
  • We make decisions based on max. 30% written information
  • At Shell 50% of the answers come from people we do not know directly and these answers are  the most valuable 75%
  • You should learn when a project start to make use of new knowledge
  • The best enterprise search is to ask a coworker
  • Focus on a small number of important lessons and keep repeating over and over again
  • Success is made by people, they reach goals!
A day packed with a lot of inspiration and if you did not make it today you should visit EIM2012!

The Cluetrain Manifesto, the 10th anniversary edition

June 30 this year was the release date of the revised edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto. This book was written by four gentlemen: Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger. Here I must admit the I have only read the start of this book on it’s first release 10 years ago. So I am going to make it up to myself actually and I am going to read it now. Bonus for not having read the first edition that in this edition some commentary is added by Jake McGee, J.P. Rangaswami and Dan Gilmor. I have added their blogs to the digital workspace blogroll on the left side. With one exception: the blog of Rick, Seth Ellis Chocolatier (sorry), the blog tells the story of founding a small chocolate manufacturer!

Later on this year I will blog about the revised edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto!


Groudswell part II

Yesterday Josh Bernoff presented the table of contents of the sequel to Groundswell. In his new book the groundswell inside the company gets more attention than in the first book. Four chapters will be dedicated to “Your People”. I am looking forward to the contents of these chapters! These chapters will discuss empowerment, collaboration and leadership.

In his blogpost he mentions one of the principles they came up with: “If you want to succeed with empowered customers, you must empower your employees to solve their problems”. This principle will have big impact on IT and Risk for making it possible for employees to actually design their own IT to fit their needs. IT have to hop on to the trend or be left back and actualy lose the role they were designed to do! The risk people have to figure out a way to empower employees to make smart decisions and minimize risk at the same time. The current financial crisis illustrates that these two do not necessarily go together well…


Groundswell: POST and implementing new ways of working

Last weekend I finished reading Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. They describe strategies for winning in a world transformed by social technologies. To start of an organization needs to think about POST (People, objectives, strategy and technology). As I look back in doing implementations of new ways of digital working inside companies, I see the same pattern in all of my projects. At the start we try to analyze the current state of an entire company. Our analysis does not stop with people but considers processes and IT and the physical workplace. The social technographics profile tries to standardize and benchmark the population you aim for. This is essential because you need make sure your solutions are going to be used by your chosen population. When you are profiling an organization you will encounter differences within parts of your organization. These differences will occur between divisions and team, between countries between generations and between male and female.

The conclusion is you should use some sort of profiling at the beginning of your project, this will result in multiple different profiles. Some companies transform profiles into persona’s to better understand needs and considerations for a target group. You need to analyze work processes to grasp the work that is being done inside. Plotting these processes inside a matrix to see differences between collaborative nature and complexity of work. This complete analysis will give a good base for designing a new way of working!

What are your thoughts on this? How do you think POST can be enriched to cover more ground?


Studytrip 2008

We are leaving for our bi-annual company studytrip! On our companion blog we will keep you up to date on our programme and key findings! Of course the biggest trends will be blogged about over here!